how to tell if a cat is pregnant

How To Tell If A Cat Is Pregnant

Reviewed by Rachel Katz, VMD

Pet owners usually wonder how to tell if a cat is pregnant.

Well if you haven’t spayed your cat and she had access to an unneutered male cat recently, there’s a chance that she is pregnant.

A pregnant cat will show physical and psychological changes that will appear after 3 weeks of breeding. Read more to know what these changes are.

Cats start to get pregnant when they’re about 4 months old, and she might experience heat around that time too.

Female cats don’t experience menopause like humans, which is why she can keep getting pregnant her whole life. That’s why if you haven’t spayed your cat, she can get pregnant anytime.

So let’s find out how to tell if a cat is pregnant…

How Long Are Cats Pregnant For?

how to tell if a cat is pregnant

A cat’s gestation period usually lasts for about 2 months, which is 64 to 67 days and up to 72 days.

The cat won’t show signs of pregnancy until two or three weeks.

How To Tell If A Cat Is Pregnant

how to tell if a cat is pregnant

Cat pregnancy goes through physical and behavioral changes to look for, if you suspect that your cat is pregnant:

Physical Changes

The first physical sign you would notice are the cat nipples. They usually swell and turn to a rosier color.

You would also notice heat cycles, which happen every 10 days to two weeks then suddenly stop. A pregnant cat will have increased appetite, because she will be eating for the baby kittens inside of her.

In addition, pregnant cats will gain weight about 2 to 4 pounds over the pregnancy period. They would also vomit the same as human mothers to be, known as “morning sickness”.

It’s not something to worry about, but if the vomiting is more frequent than usual, it’s best to call your vet for help.

Finally, pregnant cats will have an enlarged abdomen sometime around the 5th week of pregnancy. It will keep enlarging until she gives birth.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes in the pregnant cat include an increase in affection, as the cat would become more affectionate and seek more of your attention.

In addition, pregnant cats would sleep more. The cat would also seek quiet places, and may start arranging blankets to make her own private space.

Visit Your Veterinarian

If you’re still not certain whether your cat is pregnant or not, it’s probably best to visit your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will be able to know if the cat is pregnant by palpation. The vet will gently press on the cat’s abdomen and feel the cat’s fetuses even if it was just the 20th day of pregnancy.

In addition, the vet will take X-rays which will show the kittens if only 40 days has passed, and know the expected number of kittens.

Ultrasound may be taken to show kittens if less than 40 days have passed, and as early as 21 days,  where X-rays can’t show. However, ultrasound can’t tell the number of kittens.

Signs Your Cat is Getting Ready to Give Birth

how to tell if a cat is pregnant

When the cat is ready to give birth, try not to disturb her and watch from a safe distance. Below are the signs that your cat started active labor:

  • Two days before labor and up to hours before labor, the cat would seek out quiet and private spaces to start giving birth.
  • The cat may seem restless or distressed 24-48 hours before labor.
  • You might hear more meowing and crying than usual.
  • Decrease in body temperature, the cat’s body temperature will decrease to become lower than 100 Fahrenheit. Whereas the normal temperature is between 100.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit). This happens within 12 to 36 hours of labor.
  • Loss of appetite
  • As the labor approaches, the cat will start to lick her vulva to clean any mild discharge.

How Many Kittens Will a Cat Have?

how to tell if a cat is pregnant

Cats who give birth for the first time and older cats tend to have smaller litters of 2 or 3 kittens. But usually the litter of kittens has  1 to 10 kittens.

Number of kittens in one litter depends on the breed too. For example, Siamese cats have big litters. However, persian cats have small litter sizes.

It’s a good idea to talk to your vet to know how many kittens to expect. Because some cats who birth for the first time won’t birth all of the kittens in the litter, which causes serious and life threatening problems.

In addition, cat owners might get surprised with more kittens than expected, because it takes 10 minutes to one hour between each kitten to come out.

When to See a Veterinarian

how to tell if a cat is pregnant

If you notice any of the physical or personality signs of pregnancy on your cat, such as swelling nipples, weight gain, or sleeping more hours.

It’s better to visit your veterinarian to help determine if she’s actually pregnant, maintain your cat health, and know how many kittens to expect in order to prepare for them.

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